Morning Brew - ☕ AI advisor

PwC ChatGPT
May 31, 2024

Tech Brew

Vultr

It’s Friday. Consultancy PwC is using AI technology to improve efficiency—and encouraging its enterprise clients to do the same. Tech Brew’s Patrick Kulp talked to a generative AI leader at the firm to get the how and the why of PwC’s embrace of AI.

In today’s edition:

Patrick Kulp, Kelcee Griffis, Annie Saunders

AI

Consult your bot

PwC logo displayed on a screen Sopa Images/Getty Images

When PwC’s Bret Greenstein is on a work call with someone in, say, Oklahoma, he might tap a custom GPT he built to grab local weather or sports scores to help liven up small talk. He sometimes bats around ideas with a specialized “research assistant” bot, to which he regularly feeds data. And as he spoke with Tech Brew, Microsoft Copilot dutifully took notes for the consultancy’s PR rep.

“These are little day-to-day things, but they make you so fast in what you’re doing,” said Greenstein, a generative AI leader at the firm. “I can take a snapshot of my calendar and just ask me for all conflicts. And it tells me what the meetings were about.”

Few companies outside of Silicon Valley have seemed to embrace the latest generation of AI with quite as much zeal as PwC and other consultancies. Last April, the company pledged to spend $1 billion to grow its generative AI offerings over three years. As of this week, it has widened its deal with OpenAI to make PwC’s US and UK firms the first reseller of ChatGPT Enterprise and the largest user of the product by number of licenses, according to an announcement.

Bot flippers: The partnership will let PwC offer ChatGPT Enterprise along with tailored solutions for industries and tasks ranging from software development to handling purchase orders or summarizing leases, according to Greenstein. Data can then be plugged in to customize them further, he said.

“Our enterprise clients are very focused on outcomes,” Greenstein said. “They want to know, ‘If I do this, how much better will this process be? How much faster will it be? How much more efficient will it be?’ And so the easier we can make that for them, the better.”

So where are these “outcomes” happening most?

Keep reading here.—PK

   

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Vultr

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Power your GenAI initiatives with Vultr.

CONNECTIVITY

Deal with it

T-Mobile phone illustration Nurphoto/Getty Images

T-Mobile will buy the majority of UScellular’s wireless business, the major carrier announced Tuesday, shrinking the number of smaller retailers that cater to more value-conscious customers. Depending on who you ask, this is either great or terrible news.

Washington-based T-Mobile said it will pay roughly $4.4 billion to take over most of UScellular—including its customers and some of its valuable wireless spectrum licenses—and that it aims to close the deal next year following regulatory review. It also includes access to many UScellular tower sites, although UScellular will retain ownership of them.

For T-Mobile, the deal represents a way to break into a different part of the wireless market without curating an entirely new customer base, Chris Stafford, an M&A partner at West Monroe, said.

“It just provides T-Mobile with a greater market share of the broader cell market,” he told Tech Brew. “The other route for them would be to compete in that space on their own and develop their own products and offerings to kind of serve that end of the market. But UScellular has already done that.”

The deal serves up several positives, according to a press release from T-Mobile, including increased wireless coverage for T-Mobile customers, more plan choices for UScellular customers, and expanded home internet options.

For some consumer advocates, however, this consolidation doesn’t translate into an easy win.

Keep reading here.—KG

   

CONNECTIVITY

A mighty fine day

Robocall illustration Moor Studio/Getty Images

A New Hampshire operative who engaged a string of telecom companies to mimic President Joe Biden’s voice in robocalls could pay up to $6 million for violating a caller ID law.

The Federal Communications Commission proposed the penalty last week against political consultant Steve Kramer, to whom a spate of robocalls urging people to skip the state’s Jan. 23 presidential primary have been traced.

Kramer also faces voter-suppression charges for his role in commissioning the robocalls that said people should “save [their] vote for the November election” and appeared to originate from the treasurer of a Democratic political committee. The manipulated or “spoofed” caller ID violated the Truth in Caller ID Act, which bars the knowing transmission of inaccurate caller ID information, the agency said.

The January incident provided a high-profile example of how easily bad actors can employ fast-evolving generative AI technologies to trick consumers and manipulate elections, according to FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel.

Keep reading here.—KG

   

TOGETHER WITH AKAMAI

Akamai

Cover your bases. Ransomware isn’t going away—and defending your network is getting more complicated. Your defense (+ detection) needs to go beyond perimeter-only strategies. Enter Akamai’s 5 Steps to Ransomware Defense e-book. It explores how you can minimize the effect of attacks and stop the spread within your network. Read on.

BITS AND BYTES

Stat: 59%. That’s the percentage of global consumers who bought secondhand items over the past 12 months, according to eBay’s 2024 Recommerce Report. Retail Brew cited the figure in a story about the auction site’s first Recommerce Day.

Quote: “There used to be a curve of people who were good with numerical skills and those who were not…Then the calculator came along and was the great equalizer. I believe AI will do the same thing for literacy. Everybody could be CEO.”—Anant Agarwal, the founder of edX and a former director of MIT’s Computer Science and AI Lab, to the New York Times in a story about the possibility of AI replacing the role of CEOs

Read: Media companies are making a huge mistake with AI (The Atlantic)

COOL CONSUMER TECH

Image of a voice bubble behind a megaphone on a pink background. Mongkol Akarasirithada/Getty Images

Usually, we write about the business of tech. Here, we highlight the *tech* of tech.

Use your voice: Texting, for some of us, is the most common form of communication. We share Wordle scores, we ask our spouse to hit the grocery store on the way home, we talk about the news, we send pictures of our pets. But sometimes, only spoken communication will do. Do you pick up the phone?

Perhaps not. Voice notes are becoming more common via text messages and social media. They’re a good way to talk out something noodly or ask a question about something you can’t spell. (We got a voice memo this week asking how we’d spell “zhuszh.”) Voice memos have their utility!

Want to add another way to communicate via messages or DMs? The Washington Post has this helpful explainer about how to make it happen.

To the polls: We’re consumers, sure, but we’re also (hopefully) voters. Tech and politics have long intersected, for good and bad, but this year things stand to be a little more the latter than the former thanks to bad actors’ use of generative AI technologies.

Wired published a feature tracking the use of the tech in elections across the globe and said it plans to update it throughout the year. Deepfakes and voice spoofing can be difficult to spot, so resources like this stand to be worthwhile as Election Day looms.

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